Category Archives: Health Tips for Business

Fatigue and worker safety

Experts say employers play a role in tackling the issue

Sarah Trotto

When his first daughter was born, Steve Marks was juggling two jobs.

From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Marks was a nurse manager at a casino medical unit. When his shift ended, he slept an hour or two before moving on to his other job as a hospital supervisor from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. two nights a week. Afterward, he drove back to his first job, where he curled up under his desk for an hour-long nap.

Fatigue tips infographic for article, Fatigue and worker safety“When you’ve got bills to pay and things that have to be done, children or parents or other things keeping you up, sleep is the last thing that gets paid attention to,” he said. “It’s like, ‘All right, I can deal with this. Let me just close my eyes for a couple minutes and I’ll get back to it.’ That doesn’t make up for the loss [of sleep].”

After two years, Marks decided to stop working two jobs. Now administrator of health and safety services at Viking Yachts in New Gretna, NJ, he shares his stories to educate people about occupational fatigue.

Kim Olszewski – vice president of Lewisburg, PA-based Mid-State Occupational Health Services – also understands fatigue after working the night shift in health care. She, alongside Marks, participates in presentations on occupational fatigue.

Employers are becoming increasingly aware that fatigue is a safety issue, Olszewski said, and they, along with workers, play a role in tackling the problem.

“The key is the proactive piece, driving it from the top down, talking about fatigue, how it can be managed, how can it impacts all aspects of life – not just work,” she said.


More Inclusive Workplaces Recruiting Autistic Employees

Mar 8, 2018

With autism rates growing nationally, and even more dramatically in New Jersey, where one in 41 children receive an autism diagnosis today, it is no surprise that the jobless rate is higher for young adults that are living on the spectrum. While this statistic underscores a challenge, it also reveals a meaningful opportunity for New Jersey’s autism awareness month logo for article, More Inclusive Workplaces Recruiting Autistic Employeesemployers who seek to create a more inclusive workplace.

Like all young adults, young people on the spectrum want to live independently and work. However, the prospect of a job interview can be challenging for many, especially for those who might engage in repetitive behaviors that can seem unusual to people who have had limited exposure to people with autism. “These idiosyncrasies may preclude an employer from clearly seeing their hidden talents or skills such as an intense focus or the ability to work intently with numbers and patterns and process data, which neurotypical populations may lack,” explained Julie Mower, executive director of The Phoenix Center, a school for students with significant developmental disabilities and those on the autism spectrum ages five through 21 based in Nutley. “These employees also enjoy performing repetitive tasks for extended periods with near perfect accuracy, helping to increase productivity on group projects and initiatives.”

However, with top talent increasingly in demand, companies such as Microsoft, Walgreens, Zinburger, Capital One, and Procter & Gamble, are actively recruiting people with autism, especially in technical jobs. Consider SAP which has a formal program to recruit those with autism spectrum disorder; the Silicon Valley giant already has 130 such employees, as shown recently on CBS News.

At The Phoenix Center, young adults with autism are also meaningfully contributing to workplace; through its Transition and Community-Based Instruction programs, the school facilitates employment opportunities for students with autism, with positive results for employer and student alike. “Our students and graduates are placed in jobs throughout NJ in companies such as Walgreens, Shop Rite, a Kia automotive dealership, and Liberty Science Center, for example, and have shown real aptitude for computer programming, computer design and math problem solving, for example,” Mower said.


Strong Vocational Rehabilitation System Helps Wisconsin Farmers Succeed

By 06/23/2016

phtoo of people in Vocational Rehab prgramMadison, WI – June is Wisconsin Dairy Month, and it’s a great opportunity to highlight the contributions of Wisconsin’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) on Wisconsin’s agriculture industry and Wisconsin’s workforce as a whole. In Federal Fiscal Year 2015, the Department of Workforce Development’s (DWD) DVR helped 4,875 consumers, including approximately 180 Wisconsin farmers, achieve employment goals.

The core mission of DWD is developing Wisconsin’s workforce, and that includes helping workers with disabilities move toward greater independence through the dignity of work.

Job seekers with disabilities represent a critical part of our state’s workforce and, through their success in reaching their goals, contribute to Wisconsin’s economic growth. This is why Governor Walker in 2014 launched A Better Bottom Line in support of overcoming barriers to employment for job seekers with disabilities. A Better Bottom Line is tailored after Delaware Governor Jack Markell’s initiative with the National Governor’s Association and promotes employment opportunities for people with disabilities through recognition, education and strategic investments. This includes helping farmers with disabilities continue their livelihood through the most essential – and cost-effective – supports and resources.

In Wisconsin, demand for DVR services is growing with more than 16,000 consumers on DVR’s caseload at any given time, and thousands more expected to seek services as Wisconsin implements federal regulations under the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. In an effort to remain excellent stewards of public funds, DVR has updated practices to ensure critical supports are available to all DVR consumers, including farmers, and that the long-term financial stability of the program is protected. Continue reading Strong Vocational Rehabilitation System Helps Wisconsin Farmers Succeed

Creating A Corporate Wellness Brand That Works For Your Company


Alan Kohll Founder & president of corporate health & wellness services provider, TotalWellness.

Branding your corporate wellness programCreating a brand for your corporate wellness program has the same types of benefits as creating a corporate brand. Your wellness program brand ensures your program is recognizable. It helps you create something with which your employees can relate. Good branding can also make your program more attractive to employees because it helps you to maintain consistency and cohesiveness.

There are a few traditional brand elements that are predetermined when it comes to your wellness program. Your audience, for example, is already defined. The same is true of your position and your goals. These things are a given due to the nature of working in wellness.

There are some brand elements, however, that you’ll need to intentionally and strategically define.

Your Wellness Program Identity

It’s important to establish an identity for your wellness program. When it comes to branding, your wellness identity can include the name of your program, a logo, the colors you’ll use and the overall look of your materials.

Establishing an identity ensures your program is recognizable. When employees see wellness materials, they know exactly what they’re looking at. A wellness identity also makes the program a bit more relatable.

Your Wellness Program Values

There are a lot of great benefits that can be associated with a healthy lifestyle. It’s important to pick one or two to be the focus of your employee wellness program. This will help you to remain specific and focused rather than biting off more than you can chew.


After A Long Day At The Computer Do You Have A Medical Problem?

Zhai Yun Tan
man with computer eye strainIt’s 2:00 p.m. and you have a few more hours until the end of your workday.

Your eyes sting, your vision is getting blurry and your head hurts. The computer screen that you’ve been staring at for the past six hours seems so bright that you want to shut your eyes.

Sound familiar? We’d bet yes.

Computers Bugging Your Eyes? Try This
• The American Optometric Association’s tips include using anti-glare screens; avoiding glare from windows, computers and lights; and positioning the computer screen 15 degrees below eye level.
• The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends keeping the computer monitor at arm’s length, using a desktop humidifier and making sure your screen isn’t brighter than your surroundings.  Arm yourself with eyedrops to prevent dry eye.
• Computer or reading glasses may help. If you use reading glasses, consider a change in focal length — since we tend to read from paper and digital devices in different distances.
• A study of over 200 employees of a software company in Bangalore, India, found that yoga helped reduce visual discomfort.
• Don’t forget to blink.
Continue reading After A Long Day At The Computer Do You Have A Medical Problem?

6 Techniques To Avoid Lifting Injuries

April 21, 2016 by Michael B. Stack

photo showing two employees demostrating proper lifting techniqueOne of the most common causes of workers compensation claims is the improper lifting of a heavy object by an employee. It is also one of the easiest workers compensation claims to avoid. When an employee injures a back, it is usually not the heavy weight, but the method of lifting the weight that was improper. These back injuries can be avoided. The teaching of proper lifting techniques, to any employee who may be called upon to physically move objects, is an essential part of any good safety program.

There are at least 6 common things that employees do that cause them to hurt their back. They are (this is not an all inclusive list)

• Twisting while lifting
• Holding the object too far away from the body
• Lifting with the back bent
• Contorting the body to lift in an unnatural way
• Losing their balance while lifting
• Not coordinating their lift with other co-worker(s)

Twisting while Lifting

When a heavy object needs to be moved from a floor or other level to a higher level, the employee will often be paralleled to the higher level when the object is picked up and will have to twist to set the object on the higher level (shelf, cart, conveyor belt, etc.). The employee should approach the object perpendicular to the higher level where the object is going to be placed, with the employee, the object and the higher level in a straight line. This puts the object in the middle between the employee and the higher level, allowing the employee to lift the object without twisting. It also allows the employee to have the head facing straight forward to keep all parts of the spine in a straight line.

Holding the Object Too Far from the Body

Sometimes employees just do not want to get dirty. If the object is dirty, greasy, oily, etc., the employee may be inclined to try to lift the object while holding the object away from the body. This is difficult to do with light objects and a recipe for an injury with heavy objects. The further the object is from the body, the harder it is too lift and the more strain it places on the body. The employees need to be taught to hold the object they lift as close to the body as possible to avoid strain on the back.
Continue reading 6 Techniques To Avoid Lifting Injuries

Study Links Worker Safety and Health to Stock Market Success


cartoon of man in hsopital bed with medical and stock chart

Three recent studies suggest companies that excel at worker health and safety also thrive in stock market value.

In each study, researchers analyzed long-term stock market performances among organizations recognized for safety excellence. The findings included:

Feeling Emotionally Attached to Work Leads to Improved Well-Being

No wonder I couldn’t keep working as a dishwasher!

I Heart My Job buttonBy
Elk Grove Village, IL

Workers who feel emotionally attached to and identify with their work have better psychological well-being, reports a study in the November Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).

Efforts to increase affective organizational commitment (AOC) may lead to a happier, healthier workforce — and possibly contribute to reducing employee turnover, suggests the new research by Thomas Clausen of the Danish National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, and colleagues.

Affective organizational commitment is defined as “the employee’s emotional attachment to, identification with, and involvement in the organization.” The new study looked at how AOC affected psychological well-being and other health-related outcomes in approximately 5,000 Danish eldercare workers, organized into 300 workgroups.

The results showed significantly higher well-being for employees in workgroups with higher AOC. Workgroups with high AOC also had lower sickness absence rates and fewer sleep disturbances, as reported by workers. Continue reading Feeling Emotionally Attached to Work Leads to Improved Well-Being

Wellness Programs Add Financial Advice To Improve Employee Health

Sheena Calliham is all too aware of statistics showing that millennials have less job security and more student debt than their parents.

financial counsellor and young couple“Student loan debt is a primary financial stressor and concern for my generation,” she says, “and we’ve also faced a challenging job market.”

Calliham is 32, manages healthcare centers in Columbia, S.C, and has a 2-year-old daughter. A few weeks ago, she signed up for a financial wellness program offered by her employer. She says the stress of the debt and the cost of raising a child were affecting many aspects of her life.

“It can be a stressor that I can take home with me,” she says, “and that may cause me to take things out on people that I love.”
About half of all U.S. employers now offer financial wellness programs, although how they define them varies. Many companies have long offered lectures on topics like retirement. But increasingly, say analysts tracking the trend, employers are tailoring their programs to the worker — more like a personal trainer who works on your budget rather than your waistline.

Most large companies are expanding their financial wellness programs this year, says Rob Austin, director of retirement research at consulting firm Aon Hewitt. And employers realize one-on-one counseling is a far more effective way to reach people and address their particular concerns.

“It really goes much deeper and much broader,” he says.

According to Evren Esen, who directs survey programs at the Society for Human Resource Management, more than two-thirds of professionals in human resources say personal finances are having an effect on their employees at work, and that can affect health.


Walking Workstations Reduce Muscle Pain


hamster wheel walking workstationSacramento, CA
A researcher at McGill University in Quebec says her study of treadmill workstations show them to be potentially more beneficial and able to help diminish work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Kinesiology researchers are studying ways to reduce or even prevent muscular and skeletal stresses and pains. The study as summarized in Reuters Health shows that walking while working on a computer may lead to healthier muscular patterns. The research was published this year in the European Journal of Applied Physiology.

“There are studies recently that show that you lose weight because you would exert more calories, but we were more interested in knowing about the muscles that do the work. The muscles in the neck/shoulder region are the ones that feel the pain and experience fatigue,” says Julie Cote, an Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education whose research focuses on biomechanics and ergonomics.

Cote’s lab asked 20 healthy participants to complete a 90-minute typing task on a computer while sitting or walking on a treadmill. This typing task measured both speed and accuracy. “We found out that in terms of performance – typing performance – there was no difference between how fast or how many mistakes people were making whether they were walking or seated,” said Cote.

For the experiment, they placed electrodes on certain parts of the body to measure muscle activity in the neck, shoulders, forearms, wrists and lower back. Cote said the electrodes collected three points of data – blood flow, muscle activity and movement or posture – with the help of motion capture. Her lab asked participants to rate their level of discomfort while performing tasks. Results showed that upper limb discomfort was higher when the subjects were sitting and increased the longer they sat.